Ex-Trump aide Manafort close to plea deal with Mueller

ABC News: Mueller And Manafort Reach 'Tentative' Plea Deal To Avert Second Trial

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is close to reaching a plea deal that would avert a trial scheduled to start later this month in Washington, D.C.

He was found guilty of eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and failure to report a foreign bank account, crimes that legal experts predicted would likely result in a prison term of six to 12 years.

"Manafort and his most senior defense attorneys spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of special prosecutors who are involved in the ongoing investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation", the report says.

ABC News reported Thursday evening, citing "sources familiar with the negotiations" that the plea deal will be announced Friday in court.

"There's no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because there's nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man", he added.


Reports have circulated for a week that Manafort's defense attorneys were in talks with Mueller's team to reach a deal to avoid the second trial. Another trial was to begin later this month based on charges filed against Manafort past year in Washington, DC. The trial is scheduled to get underway in Washington on September 24.

Manafort is facing charges related to alleged conspiracy, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. Mueller's spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the possible deal, which was first reported by ABC News.

None of the charges against Manafort related to collusion with Russian Federation. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort but he has not publicly ruled it out.

A second trial could delve deeper into Manafort's Russian connections including to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-Russian political consultant who was indicted along with Manafort and who Mueller's team has linked to Russian intelligence.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia. But Judge Amy Berman Jackson of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had already signaled that argument was out-of-bounds.

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